Thai food has rapidly grown in popularity among casual diners and gourmets alike, earning it a status as one of the world’s most popular cuisines. And while most people think of spicy meals laced with chilli as the predominant factor in Thai food, this is far from the truth. In all Thai dishes, there must always be a balanced harmony of flavours. Few cuisines can offer such a wonderful array of sensations that will delight and tease your taste buds quite like Thai food. Whether in a rich or fragrant Thai curry, spicy soup, savoury salad, or sweet dessert, the competing and complementing flavours create a harmonious blend that once tasted will never be forgotten.
At the center of every Thai meal is rice, the staple of the diet. Thailand is the world’s top exporter of rice, the finest variety of which Thai Ham Mali Rice, widely recognized as the best in the world. While Thai Hom Mali Rice is the center of every meal, herbs and spices are surely the heart of the meal. For it is these ingredients which provide a dazzling array of delicious and exotic tastes that make Thai cuisine so distinct.
Thai Ingredients & Herbs
As with all cultures, Thai have used herbs and spices for centuries as essential remedies and medicines. Is it any wonder then that Thai food is considered so healthy? What makes Thai food extra special is its intricate balance of spicy, sweet, sour and salty. The captivating aroma of tom yum kung, a favourite Thai soup loved by the world over, serves as a perfect testimony to the statement- a blend of flavours from fresh lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaf.
Some of the herbs used in Thai cooking are common throughout the world- such as garlic, mint, onion, shallot, coriander. But more of them are exotic and, in the age of world fusion cuisine, some are known the world over and even adopted for use in western cooking; for example lemongrass, Thai sweet basil, galangal, bird chilli, kaffir lime. Still there are numerous other herbs that are important to many Thai dishes, but are mostly not known to foreigners. These include quite a number of wild green vegetables with extraordinarily strong aroma.
Garlic, shallot, onion, spring onion, coriander leaf, and root are basic to most Thai dishes. They are the most-used herbs and, in a sense, forming the foundation of Thai food. However, it is the more robustly flavourful lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime, ginger, holy basil etc, that, used in combinations, define the unique flavours of individual Thai dishes. Still there are other strong flavoured herbs and green vegetables such as lesser ginger (kra-chai), turmeric, ma-kaen, phak-phaew which contribute to the flavours of other regional and local dishes.
There is more to Thai food than Tom Yam Kung. It is the cultural heritage that contribute to so much variety. We get delicacies like Pad Thai from the north, a wide variety of curries from the south, grilled meats with Som Tam from the northeast.
Thai cuisine takes a pride of place in its natural heritage, practiced as an art form and handed down from generation to generation. Thai food not only tastes good but also looks beautiful, which intricate carvings and creative decorations. And a popular way to savour the delight of the Thai meal is dining together with a group of friends and share the many dishes together. It’s always a hearty feast with fun and fiery flavours of Thai culinary creations.
Thai fruits are well known worldwide for their fabulous taste and quality. Not only are they rich in vitamins and have a high nutritional value, they can be used as ingredients in various types of Thai recipes. In addition to bananas, mandarins, coconuts, mango, and watermelons, Thailand offers a wide range of fresh fruit that may not be as familiar. These include mangosteen, durian, longan, rambutan, and pomelo.